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Posts from the ‘Worship’ Category

Lamentations to Return


Text: Lamentations 3:37-44 and other ‘return’ messages preached by the prophets

I wrote the song ‘Returning’ as I reflected on the messages of the prophets of the Old Testament. Their message, though despised so many years ago, is still timeless today as it still beckons people to return to the Lord.  Reading through the prophets has opened my eyes to the patience of God and yet his consistent character of mercy in judgment.  Clearly, when the Lord announces judgement on his people it is the last thing that he wants to do; it is the ultimatum for a stubborn and proud people. Tracing the steps of my own life, I see so clearly where I turn away from God in willful disobedience and forsake not only his love for me but also his grace.  Lovingly, God intrudes on my actions and thoughts outside of his desire for me and brings me back to dependency; a trust exclusively found in him.

The verse in Lamentations has unique significance in my own personal prayer life as I seek the Lord in prayer.  Often times it is a struggle to devote time to prayer and really pray.  I can pray throughout the day – and I do, but I notice a difference when I really pour out my heart and pray with complete attention and direction.  Sometimes the difficulty in my absent prayer life results from disobedience.  These are times when I know I should approach God but am reluctant to do so due to sin.  I am comforted in these times when I take the step to return back to the Lord in confession and repentance.  For in those times of returning I am drawn back to the heart of the Father and his love for me.

Returning

Verse 1:

You are everything, you are my delight

You are my song, in the night.

You have encompassed me

Yet I have turned away, forsaken your love,

Unfailing love.

Pre-Chorus:

And like a father, you come break my world in two.

And like a child I come running back to you.

 Chorus:

And I am returning to you.

 Verse 2:

When it seems that you, have covered up your face,

In a cloud, a darkened cloud.

And all the prayers I pray

Cannot e’r get through.

What must I do, what must I do?

The Paradox of Finding God

                         God will quench your thirst for His presence;

                         Only to leave you more thirsty for more of Him.

Recently, I read a phenomenal quote that I read in a book by A.W. Tozer called, ‘The Pursuit of God’. Writing about following God, Tozer states:

” To have found God and still pursue him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too easily satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the chidren of the burning heart.  St. Bernard stated this holy paradox in a musical quatrain that will instantly be understood by every worshipping soul:

We taste thee, O thou living bread, and long to feast upon thee still;

We drink of thee, the fountainhead, and thirst our souls from thee to fill.

Come near to holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.  They mourned for him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.”

(Tozer, A.W. The Pursuit of God. Wingspread Publishers, PA. page 15)

As Tozer describes, the great mystery of worship is that ‘tasting and seeing that the Lord is good’ causes one to be full, yet desire more of Christ at the same time.  This is the beautiful tension every worshipper of Christ experiences.  In fact, David put it well in Psalm 42:2 by saying, “My soul thirsts for God, the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?”

I encourage you to let your heart go hard after God.  Place yourself in his word to receive revelation about who He is.  Intentionally go and meet with God.  If you find your worship life drying up it is because you have removed yorself from receiving revelation about who God is.  Revelation from God sourced out of the word and the spirit becomes the fuel for the fire in every worshipper’s burning heart of service for Christ.

All of Me Responding to All of God

Therefore, by the mercy of God, present yourself to God as a living sacrifice... Romans 12:1

Many times, I get asked by various people to define worship in my own words.  The simple answer that I tell them is the following: ‘All of me responding to all of God’.  This is a profound way to look at worship for two main reasons.  First, worship involves our response to God.  The ‘church’ word for the response that God is looking for is called obedience.  So, Biblically, our worship can be gauged by our obedience.  Secondly,  our worship and obedience directly relates to our growing walk with the Lord.  This is called the process of sanctification.

Therefore, we can only respond to God in obedience as he leads us into greater and greater light through the revelation of his word through the power of the Spirit.  So, at it’s essence, worship is walking with God and being conformed to the image of his son, Christ, while we live, breathe, and have our being on the earth.

One of the great hymns of the faith that sums up this attitude of responding to God is the song, ‘Take my Life and Let it Be”.  The verses of the song suggest total surrender and consecration of our bodies to serve the living God. Recently, I read a book by Lewis Sperry Chaffer entitled, “He that is Spiritual”.  I think a portion of what he has written sums up the idea of worship related to obedience through a spirit initiated walk with God. The following section highlights this by saying:

“In Romans 8:14 it is stated, ‘For as many as are led of the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’  This it may be concluded, is the normal Christian experience according to the plan and purpose of God.  It is equally true that some Christians are abnormal to the extent that they are not constantly led of the Spirit, for it is also said of in Galatians 5:18, ‘But if you are led of the Spirit, you are not under the law.’  The walk in the Spirit, or the life that is led of the Spirit, is one of the great new realities in this age of grace, yet some believers are so far removed from this daily blessing that thier lives are shaped and adapted to the order and relationships of the past dispensation.  It is one of the supreme glories of this age that the child of God and citizen of heaven may live a superhuman life, in harmony with his heavenly calling, by an unbroken walk in the spirit.  The leading of the Spirit is not experienced by all in whom the Spirit dwells, for such leading must depend on a willingness to go where he, in his infinite wisdom, would have us go.”  (Chaffer, Lewis Sperry.  He that is Spiritual.  Grand Rapids, Zondervan:1967. 58.)

How can we summarize this?  True worship invites the initiation of the Spirit along with absolute submission to the Spirit’s reign in our lives. By his infinite wisdom, we are led into everyday places and situations which cause us to respond to God out of the overflow of the spirit, according to the present revelation of God that he has shown us. As we respond in obedience, the Lord changes us and brings glory to himself.

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